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Week 4&5


FIRST: As you scroll through the weeks on this site, go back to the first week periodically and look at how all the work is getting stronger. It helps to see what you are learning.

What have we learned so far:

-Impact (drive by impact) and Interest (walk up interest)

Impact depends on value contrast. You can have as much or as little as you like, just know that bigger value differences make your work more impactful from far away

Interest depends on surface detail. You can have as much or as little as you like, just know that surface detail makes your work more interesting from close up. It invites people to step up and take a closer look.

Intuitive vs Intentional - When abstract painting (all painting) we dance between intuition and intention. another great metaphor for that is the teeter totter. Painting (all painting)is a process of call and response (rather than 'fixing'). When you like something leave it or do more. When you don't like something, keep going. If you lose something you liked, just keep going instead of trying to get it back.

Colour - Hue, temperature, chroma or intensity are all qualities of colour in addition to value. We talked about using a mother colour and 'flavouring' it rather than studying colour theory at this point. 

Composition - After a little bit of play and warming up - whether with a pencil or with paint, try to determine the direction of things and where the focus is developing - if any. You can use lines, size differences, colour temperature and especially contrast to enhance your composition.



-start with mark making - just scribble or draw to 'activate' the surface

-paint a few colours onto the painting to react to or set the stage

-alternatively - to start off the painting: make a collage and use it as inspiration, or take out a photograph or painting you lie and turn it sideways or upside down and use the shapes and colours for inspiration

-paint small, in a journal maybe, to get the juices flowing, then shift over to the painting

-while you're going, you can also 'paint out' and 'paint over'; this creates a nice richness of layers

-crop your work; cut it in half... or cut out the pieces you like and develop only those into further paitnings

-add, or start with collage

-add drawing; draw over your painting

-add text, collaged or otherwise



One of the most wonderful benefits of painting with acrylics is the potential to incorporate texture!

For Week 5 bring texture making tools.I will have lots handy so if you don't bring any, that's OK too.

You can buy some modelling paste if you like.

You can buy some dodge dodge or acrylic medium if you like.

Bring: sandpaper, graters or mashers from the kitchen, newspaper, fabrics, string and wool, different kinds and weights of scrap paper (cardboard works well as does 'kleenex') and a palette knife or some kind of spatula.



Week 3

Week 3 Concepts:

Let's look at composition.


Small collage on mat board to experiment with compostion

Grid to practice composition.

Flow. Focus.

Unity (but also) Variety OR Variety (but also) Unity

Week 2


Some people you 'know' talking about  abstract art.

Week 2 Key Concepts:

Colour Shapes


Put colour shapes (or lines or patterns)  inside other shapes, alongside other shapes and overlapping several other shapes.

Play with different  HUES.


Play with COOLER and WARMER colours.

More INTENSE and more NEUTRAL colours.

Your decisions can be either intuitive or intentional, but you're invited to apply the language to the result afterward to help you analyze what you are doing and understand further decisions.

Week 1

Look at what you've accomplished already! These are YOUR beautiful abstracts in the gallery!

Key Concepts:

Abstract art is as individual as you are, like your voice and your handwriting.

Abstract art is non=objective; so its only reference is itself. You can't 'check' it with objects.

Paint what you feel like. Feel free to paint over things. Look for a developing direction or focus if you like.

IMPACT is what you see from far away. INTEREST is what you see from close up. 

IMPACT gives someone a reason to notice. INTEREST is an invitation; it interests someone to step up and take a closer look. You can create interest with paint, mark making tools, collage etc.

COLOUR THEORY is a 'nice to know'. It's not essential to know colour theory. Choose a colour you like and start 'flavouring' it on your palette. If you don't like it on your painting you can adjust and paint over it.


Talking About Material:

Artist’s Quality Acrylic Paint or water-soluble oils over 100 ml (not the little sample box tubes) If you’re buying:

• Red
• Blue
• Yellow
• Burnt umber • White

Any and all additional paint is welcome.

A sketchbook or art journal at least 8” x 10” (doesn’t have to be new). Please bring it the first night. 

Abstract art lends itself well to a visual art journal practice. It's fun and a great exercise to pull out your visual journal and play with colours, textures, mark making and composition. You can do the whole course in an art journal if you like. It's a good idea to keep on by you - but its entirely optional.

Brushes of various sizes (at least one house painting brush size - dollar store OK).


A paint pen - black is good but so are gold, white, colours

10 panels or canvases for the course (You won’t need them the first night. Carolyn will explain what to buy.)

Just bring a few each night - at least two; and try to bring last week's work back to work on too. Paintings evolve.

You can paint on boards, cradled panels 

OR canvasses

All of these are available in a variety of qualities. You can also paint on mat board or cardboard or paper. You can also use canvas boards. It really is entirely up to you. You can try a few over the weeks of the course.

The best places to buy substrates (that's what your panel or canvas is called) in our neck of the woods are Michaels and Dollar Store. I buy most of my stuff at Value Village and Garage Sales.

These are at Michael's








A glue stick

U-HU is best

1 inch masking tape

Scissors and X-Acto knife

A small bottle of gesso

You don't need gesso if you are using canvasses that are already primed (they'll be white)

Acrylic medium

Share with a partner. You can also use Modge Dodge. Acrylic medium is used to add collage and textures to abstract art. It's optional.

Plastic table cover

2 Water containers. Yogurt tubs are great.

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